Brittany Greenfield of Wabbi tells us about deploying security in your DevOps pipeline.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Brittany Greenfield: Thanks for asking. Like everyone else, taking one day at a time. We are doing our best to protect, support, and take care of those around us in our families, communities, and teams. We will get through this and come out stronger for it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Wabbi.
Brittany Greenfield: My career focuses on identifying new market opportunities and building the strategy and teams to execute them. When I get an idea, I don’t let it go easily. As I got into cybersecurity, I realized most of the focus was around securing the perimeter- similar to installing a security system in your home – no one focused on the root cause – do the locks on the doors and windows work, or is it even the right type of lock?
As I investigated why security had not been integrated into the software development lifecycle, there was a disconnect between the modern development lifecycle and application security. And then the Equifax breach happened, and I knew I was onto something critical. So, I decided it was time to come up with a solution to modernize application security, and Wabbi was born.
How does Wabbi innovate?
Brittany Greenfield: For us, innovation always starts with customers. They are the front line, the ones who are living the problem we’re solving every day. We continuously integrate their feedback back into our product roadmap (sometimes much to our VP of Engineering’s chagrin!), whether it’s the latest tools they want to use or how they are evolving their application security program.
Once we bring it inside the organization, all ideas are important, no matter where they come from. The importance of having a diverse team is bringing different perspectives – and that is what really drives innovation forward. Just as Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” So, the more opinions and perspectives, the better. I was an outsider to cybersecurity, entering the field later in my career, and so have brought an outside perspective with founding Wabbi. Something is missing with the status quo – let’s do this differently.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Brittany Greenfield: This is the one-time startup to Fortune 500 companies that tackled the same challenges day-to-day: uncertainty and unpredictability. However, unpredictability and variability are intrinsic to startups, and we managed better because of it. 2020 was a year filled with so much uncertainty, and we just said we’re going to do the best we can today to make sure we succeed tomorrow. We focused on supporting long-term relationships with employees, customers, and prospects and worried less about the short-term because we knew we would get through it.
However, it’s not to say we weren’t without our challenges – despite 2020 being a record-setting year for VC, female founders were not part of this equation, with funding dropping 31%, despite their companies continuing to exit faster and at higher valuations. We certainly witnessed the causes firsthand; however, it shone the light on who our best supporters were – in both existing and new investors – because we knew they really had our back.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Brittany Greenfield: I don’t think there is a company out there who didn’t have to make difficult choices. For us, it was our hiring plan and commitments we were willing to make. The advantage of a global pandemic is that everybody is on the same page and understands the challenges. This made transparency key: the more communication we could provide, the more at ease everyone felt. Things are going to change – especially in a startup, but if you are clear, set expectations, and provide transparency, and most importantly, are not afraid to admit mistakes, you will gain trust. The advantage of being a startup CEO vs. a public company CEO is the ability to be transparent and build trust that you are all in this together.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Brittany Greenfield: As a startup, stress and anxiety are not unique to being in a pandemic. You are always thinking about what needs to be done or get fixed. I often say, startups are where overachievers go to be told no 99% of the time. But there is a fallacy that you have to be working at your desk 24-7 to be successful.
I’ve learned that you hit a wall if you don’t take the time for yourself and do the things that are meaningful to you – and that’s just as important as doing the work itself. In exercise, there’s the concept of “active recovery;” founders need to do the same to make sure they’re always at peak performance. For me, it’s cooking at the end of the day. It allows me to tap into a creative part of my brain, and in doing so gives my brain the time to rest, gain clarity, and come out stronger – and a lot of times, I come out with solutions by the end of the meal.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Brittany Greenfield: How do you solve a problem like security in the modern software development lifecycle? (for those familiar with The Sound of Music…try getting that phrase out of your head now!) There are many different ways to attack the problem, but they’re potential solutions, just shifting the bottleneck to other places in the SDLC. In startups, you hear about the difference between vitamins and cures – point DevSecOps automation solutions are vitamins, we’re the cure for the systemic problem of integrating security into development.
At Wabbi, our core development pillars are scalability and flexibility. This doesn’t just allow us to snap into any organization’s pipeline and security programs, but also future proofs us. Deployment methodology will always evolve – this is what DevOps is about. If you are only fixing today’s problem – as our competitors are – then you are backing organizations into a corner to either not be able to adopt the latest competitive advantage or continue to leave security as an afterthought. Our flexibility and scalability enable organizations to deploy an end-to-end solution that will grow with them, not limit them. What differentiates Wabbi is the long-term sustainability of our platform as companies mature and evolve. We will go on that journey together.
Brittany Greenfield: Years like 2020 are where startups shine. We have the flexibility and agility to take things in stride and adapt our business model, as we saw many startups do during the pandemic, whether it was changing hiring plans or pivoting their strategy. Crises build sustainable startups -companies like Cisco and Google are great examples of startups that came out of tough years. It is critical for companies of all sizes to have adaptability and responsiveness to maintain long-term success, and there’s nothing like a crisis year to build it into your DNA. At Wabbi, we have grown together as a company through this and are stronger for it. From employees to investors, to advisors, friends of the company, and of course our customers – we have been in this together, and there’s no doubt that for all the trials and tribulations of 2020, it will be one of the years that has the greatest impact on our long-term success.